88 Ebonyi communities abolish female genital mutilation practice
By Ruth Oginyi
About 88 communities from nine local government areas in Ebonyi state have denounced and abolished the harmful traditional practice of female genital mutilation and vowed to prosecute anyone further caught in the act.
The communities drawn from Afikpo North, Ezza North, Ebonyi, Abakaliki, Izzi, Ishielu, Ivo, and Onicha local government areas respectively, made the declaration in collaboration with the National Orientation Agency, (NOA) in Ebonyi state, with support from the United Nations Children’s Fund, UNICEF.
Traditional rulers of the communities had ruled that, having realised the harmful effects of cutting women and girls’ genitals, anyone found engaging in the practice would be ostracised and prosecuted according to the Violence Against Persons (Prohibition) Act 2015, VAAP, law in the state.
Addressing the people of Onicha local government area last Saturday, Dr Ibrahim Conteh, (Chief UNICEF Enugu Field Office) represented by Mr. Theophilus Nwakpor, expressed joy at the steps taken by the communities against harmful practices inherited from the forefathers such as FGM.
He said “UNICEF is in solidarity with the good people of Onicha local government area on this feat, and we kindly urge that this momentum be maintained, resolutions sustainably implemented, a functional community surveillance team put in place to monitor and ensure compliance, and collaboration with state government and law enforcement agencies strengthened towards a more protected and safer environment for women and girls in Onicha local government and beyond.
After this declaration, law enforcement and duty bearers (police, social welfare officers, civil defence, judicial officers), will be trained to further support the efforts of the community stakeholders to end this practice in the Onicha local government”.
UNICEF commended NOA, National Human Rights, Women Affairs Ministry, CSOs, and NGOs for their tireless effort over the years till the landmark achievement was made.
Dr Desmond Onwo, acting director NOA, in a remark, urged the communities to also stand against other harmful practices against women such as rape, widowhood inheritance, the beating of wives among others.